If you’re visiting Japan, here are the must-try Japanese street food you simply cannot miss out on!
To those who think Japan is only famous for anime, top-quality electrical goods, and vehicles, then you’re wrong. Japan is renowned for its appetizing and unique food. The one Japanese food most of us are familiar with is sushi.
But today we’re going to introduce various and delicious Japanese street foods that not only look good to the eyes but also make your mouth drool.
Like most street foods in different countries, Japanese street foods are sold by street vendors on stalls called ‘Yattai’. They can be widely seen during Japanese festivals and they sell a great variety of delicious Japanese street food.
Since the choices can be overwhelming we have made it convenient for you by preparing a list of Japanese street food you’d love to try.
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Must-Try Japanese Street Food
Dango is an authentic Japanese street food that’s made out of rice flour, uruchi flour, and glutinous rice flour called ‘mochiko’. They are made into medium-sized balls filled with a sweet filling such as red bean paste. They are commonly served on a stick in numbers of three per stick.
They are sold on Japanese streets throughout the year but their flavors depend on each season. For instance, during the cherry blossom blooming season, the Dango is served in three colors like pink, white and green; the colors that represent the cherry blossom flowers.
There are numerous dango flavors available such as matcha and sesame and they are also made out of different types of flour like millet and toasted soy flour. You’ll also find dango topped with soy sauce and black sesame paste.
Dango is one of my favorite Japanese street food and it’s unlike any street food I’ve tried before. They are chewy, yummy, sweet, and also have a hint of nuttiness. Once you try dango you’ll keep wanting more of it.
Takoyaki is another favorite Japanese street food of mine that has a rich and succulent taste to it. They are also known as octopus balls since that’s their crucial filling. They are made in a special mold that has a round shape.
Takoyaki is made out of a wheat flour batter that’s filled with diced octopus, green onions, pickled ginger, and tempura scraps. While cooking the takoyaki balls are topped with Worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise.
Similar to dango, Takoyaki balls are served on a stick and sometimes on paper containers, and vendors would offer you a stick for ease of picking them up. Once you bite into the takoyaki balls you’ll be transported to a different world.
They are packed with flavors of chewy octopus pieces, spicy tempura and, they also have a sweet hint of pickled ginger. You can eat them by the stick and keep walking down the street to discover more delicious Japanese street food.
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If you want to go for something simple yet nutritious and tasty then Yaki Tomorokoshi is your go-to option. Yaki Tomorokoshi is corn on the cob but it has quite a distinct taste, unlike any corn in the cob you’ve ever had.
It has Japanese flavors infused on the corn since they are rubbed with miso, soy sauce, and topped with a blob of butter. The corn is grilled evenly on all sides and served on a stick for eating conveniently.
They taste fresh and amazing and are also priced cheaply. Make sure to give it a try when you travel to Japan.
This is an exotic choice of Japanese street food you’ll find street vendors selling. To incorporate protein in your street food shopping spree, this is what you should be getting.
Yakitori is Japanese for grilled bird and it’s usually chicken that’s skewered. The skewers are generally either metal or bamboo sticks and the meat is grilled over charcoal. Street vendors generally use portable charcoal grills since they’re easier to cook with.
The chicken pieces are usually seasoned with tare sauce, salt, and pepper either while cooking or after cooking.
Yakitori is topped with soy sauce and sesame seeds to give them extra flavor. You’ll also find other choices of meat like beef, pork, sparrow and seafood, etc. Hence make sure to ask the vendor before trying them out.
Yakisoba is a noodle dish that’s stir-fried in a wok with vegetables, meat, and Japanese condiments like tangy soy sauce. If you’re into extremely spicy food then you’ll love Yakisoba noodles.
They have an appearance like ramen but are served without a broth. Yakisoba means fried noodles and the noodles are made out of wheat flour. To make them flavorful Japanese street vendors add special tangy stir fry sauce and vegetables like green onions, and carrots.
You can also ask for your favorite source of protein like chicken, shrimp, and beef, etc.
Yakisoba noodles are usually served in paper boxes with chopsticks. They are topped with an egg, sesame seeds, and ginger. It’s a great view watching the vendor make the noodles in the wok pan and once done you’re served with a colorful and delicious meal.
This is a staple Japanese street food that has several variations to it. It’s a savory Japanese pancake made using wheat flour batter and some ingredients like cabbage, meat, and seafood are either mixed in the batter or served on top.
However, the ingredients used in the batter vary depending on the street food vendors. The pancake batter is poured on a hot metal griddle and flipped over when it’s cooked enough.
It’s then topped with special condiments, sauces, seaweed flakes, pickled ginger, and bonito flakes. One pair of okonomiyaki and you’ll be as full as ever. It has a mixture of savory, spicy and tangy flavors that’ll play around in your mouth when you bite into it. These savory pancakes are definitely worth the try.
It’d be nice to have a yummy and warm desert after having to eat filling spicy food. That’s Taiyaki for you, a fish-shaped waffle filled with sweet fillings like custard, chocolate, and red bean paste. Of course, you can ask for your choice of filling.
They are made in a fish-shaped mold and prepared right in front of your eyes. They not only look cute but also have a yummy taste that’ll linger in your mouth.
Bite into the warm taiyaki and you’ll taste the gooey filling bursting in your mouth. They are satisfying to eat especially after a full meal during the fall season.
Kakigori is Japanese shaved ice served with colorful and flavorful toppings. This dessert is way different from the regular shaved ice. Kakigori comes in a variety of flavors such as matcha, lemon, grape, strawberry, and cherry.
You can see vendors shaving the block of ice usually by hand and then the shaved ice is placed in a cup and shaped into a cone. You can ask for your favorite toppings on kakigori and the vendors also add sweet condensed milk for extra sweetness.
The texture of the ice in kakigori is like soft snow unlike the hard shaved ice we get in shops. Hence, the shaved ice in kakigori is referred to as Angel Snow. Get your cup of icy kakigori and enjoy the summer evening.
We know desserts can be unhealthy due to the amount of sugar incorporated in them. But if you want a light yet delicious dessert then candied fruits it is. Candied fruits are found in most countries sold by street vendors but Japanese candied fruits come in variations.
There is Anzu Ame which is candied apricot that is cut into bite-size pieces, pickled with vinegar, pricked with a wooden stick, and then dipped into a hot sugar syrup. To prevent the sugar coating from melting street vendors immediately put the candied apricot into iced wold water.
This forms a very hard sugar coating over the apricot and you need strong teeth to bite into. The same process is applied to other fruits like apples and strawberries. Candied fruits are usually available during Japanese festivals.
Mochi is one of my favorite Japanese desserts of all time. It’s made out of glutinous pounded rice, water, cornstarch, and a little bit of sugar. It’s initially formed into a paste and then formed into any desired shape.
Street vendors mostly form the dough into medium-sized balls and they are filled with varieties of fillings such as red bean, sesame paste, and ice cream.
Mochi typically comes in three colors like white, light green, and pink, and they’re rolled over potato flour to prevent them from sticking. They’re steamed with the fillings in them and this gives mochi a chewy outer texture. Mochi is a specialty during the Japanese New Year and they’re eaten throughout the year.
Japanese Street Food: FAQs
What is the most popular Japanese street food?
The most popular Japanese street foods are Dango, Takoyaki, Yaki Tomorokoshi, Yakitori, Yakisoba, Okonomiyaki, Taiyaki, Kakigori, Candied Fruits and Mochi. Most Japanese street foods are sold on sticks that help people to eat while walking in busy streets.
Where is the best street foods in Japan?
Street foods are widely available in all parts of Japan. But some places stand out from others and provide exotic and delicious street food. Some of the places that provide the best street foods in Japan are Fukuoka, Nakamise Street, Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Osaka.
What is the Japanese food on a stick?
There are quite a variety of foods that are sold on a stick in Japan. Vendors usually make bite-sized food and skewer them to make it convenient for street shoppers to eat while walking. Some of the Japanese food on a stick are Dango, Takoyaki, Yakitori. Even candied fruits are sold on a stick in Japan.
What is Tokoyami food?
Takoyaki is a popular Japanese street food that’s made out of batter filled with diced octopus, green onion, pickled ginger, and tempura. They are usually sold on sticks and are topped with sauces like ketchup, mayonnaise, and soy sauce.
What is Yakitori in Japanese?
Yakitori is Japanese for grilled chicken. It’s a popular Japanese street food that’s sold in Japan. It’s made out of bite-sized grilled chicken served on a skewer and topped with soy sauce and sesame seeds.
Hiya! I’m the main author of Japan Truly. I love everything Japan and love testing out Japanese products, be it skincare and makeup or gadgets! You’ll find reviews of some of the best selling Japanese products (tried and tested) right here!